The weeding robot fleet of Australian startup Agerris is growing rapidly. The company now has four Digital Farmhands working on farms in Queensland, eight in Victoria and one in New South Wales.
Four robots have been sold to Kalfresh, a producer that has properties in Queensland. The business grows carrot, green bean, sweet corn and pumpkin across 1619 hectares. Kalfresh will be using the robots mainly for weed control.
Agerris is also trialling and further developing its robots at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Gatton Research Facility. Agerris CEO Salah Sukkarieh says installing the Digital Farmhand at DAF’s Gatton Research Facility and with local growers will provide valuable data for future generations of the platform.
“Digital Farmhand is already Agerris’s most versatile robotic platform but using it in local conditions will allow us to optimise its functionality”, Mr Sukkarieh says. “Digital Farmhand can precisely and mechanically remove weeds as it travels along the vegetable beds, with future plans to include individual plant spraying, thinning, and harvesting depending on the needs of the farmer.”
Lockyer Valley vegetable farmer Brock Sutton, of Sutton Farms, says he saw real potential in the Digital Farmhand. “The key feature for us is the flexibility in the application of this platform – an unmanned vehicle that can carry out field operations but also has precision agriculture technology mounted on it”, he says.
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Mr Sutton emphasises the weeding robot can be used to reduce crop inputs such as herbicides and insecticides through more targeted application and also provide his company with more information about its crops. “The unmanned aspect is attractive, because it provides flexibility of what time of day and conditions it can be deployed in, above what we currently rely on.”
Agerris is building more Digital Farmhands for delivery in 2022.